Career and Technical Education
Longhorn Project

Longhorn Project

Retired Johnson Space Center (JSC) Director George W. S. Abbey had been searching for ways to make resources of the Center available to the educational community in order to fulfill NASA's goal of taking a more proactive role in community affairs. A faded photograph on the wall of his office of cattle coming home to feed provided the inspiration that has culminated in The Longhorn Project at Johnson Space Center.

That photograph, taken in about 1960, showed cattle grazing at the 30,000 acre West Ranch, then owned by the heirs of James Marion West, Sr., co-founder and chairman of Humble Oil & Refining Company (the predecessor of Exxon Corporation). A 1,600 acre portion of the West Ranch adjacent to Clear Lake is home today of Johnson Space Center. Cattle still graze on the few undeveloped acres that comprise the balance of the once-giant ranch, which now contains homes, shopping centers, and petrochemical complexes.

Abbey recognized the need of the school district to have a large tract of land in which to develop a "hands-on" agricultural education facility. Subsequent discussions between Mr. Abbey, Dr. John E. Wilson, Ph.D., Past Superintendent of Clear Creek Independent School District, Mr. Dan Gattis,  Past General Manager of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, and the Texas Longhorn Breeders Association of America have resulted in these four entities joining forces to develop the first of its kind facility for furthering agricultural education and providing the basis of international cooperation in agriculture-related studies and scientific efforts.


The NASA/CCISD Longhorn Project includes a small trophy steer herd and a show team of longhorns on loan from Texas longhorn breeders that are raised on the 60 acres of donated land from NASA JSC at the project-site which also includes the Western Heritage Pavilion constructed with the help of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo volunteers.  Other partners of “The Longhorn Project” include the Texas Longhorn Breeders Association of America and the Longhorn Development Board.

Through this project the Agriscience students learn tremendous responsibility through the daily care of the Longhorns and participation in showing the longhorns at state and tri-state fairs, contests, and exhibitions.  The pride and self-confidence gained by project participants as they show and care for Texas Longhorns is very impressive!  

In February 2004, as part of the Longhorn Project, a genetics lesson curriculum was put in place for the Clear Creek ISD 7th graders.  Every year over 4,000 CCISD 7th graders are scheduled to visit the project site and participate in a “hand-on” genetics lesson utilizing the Texas Longhorns for data and visual evaluation.  In addition to the 7th grade genetics lessons, advanced science lessons are also offered to CCISD 3rd graders and high school students enrolled in animal husbandry courses. 


The future of the Longhorn Project includes the continued partnership plus the development of new partnerships to increase the advanced educational curriculum development.   Selected areas for future developments include:
  • Increased CASE Longhorn Project Show Team participation from CCISD FFA members
  • Increased levels of sponsorship 
  • Increased levels of program awareness

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